“If we’re going to make the world a more positive place, it will be one envelope at a time.”
Steve Clarkson is the man behind #foundfiction: a guerrilla publishing experiment scattering the world with short stories.
“The primary purpose of #foundfiction is to connect writers and readers across the world – and we’d love to think we brighten someone’s day in the process.
“The project began when I was chatting to a friend who was a writer and really wanted his work to be read – however, he was shy so he didn’t want anyone to know it was him responsible for the words. We started thinking of ways we could get his work out there anonymously, and came up with #foundfiction.”
Clarkson and a community of literature enthusiasts distribute envelopes marked “READ ME” in public spaces around the world. The contents: anonymous short stories from international writers. The envelopes remain hidden in nooks and crannies until stumbled upon by the reader.
Readers are encouraged to share their findings on social media platforms using the hashtag #foundfiction.
“We want to know as much as possible about how they’ve found it, where they’ve found it and how it’s made them feel. Whether it’s come along at an important time in their life. It’s up to them what they do with it. It’s theirs to keep if they want, or leave it somewhere else to continue the story.”
Since beginning in 2014, over 100 stories have journeyed across the world as #foundfiction has grown a creative network of writers and distributors.
“I never dreamed it would grow into the project it is today, with so many writers involved and stories turning up as far away as Brisbane and Los Angeles.
“We had one envelope found at William Blake’s grave in London. Another left in a mannequin’s hand in a Cath Kidston shop.”
The workings of #foundfiction may be simple, but the impacts are profound. The reader and writer are bound by the words within this literary microcosm. The project fosters creativity and is ever growing. Competitions in schools around the country encourage children to submit their own stories for publication. A touring #foundfiction writing desk pops up in random locations, instructing the public to co-write a short story, adding one line at a time. Stories are being translated and printed in Polish and French, increasing the inclusivity of their readerships.
Projects like #foundfiction help rekindle love for the written word. It has created a new wave of literary fanatics that, one day soon, you may be caught up in.
Want to join the journey?
Submit your short story of 500 words or less to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t fancy yourself as the next Bukowski?
#foundfiction are looking for volunteer distributors and translators too. Email email@example.com for more information about how to get involved.
Image Credit: Found Fiction